來到玻利維亞的 Tupiza，地勢一下子變成沙漠和奇形怪狀的風化石，有點像回到過 19 世紀末美國西部牛仔時代。事實上，當年惡名遠播的火車及銀行大盗 Butch Cassidy 和 The Sundance Kid，逃亡南美的最終站就是 Tupiza。
在 Tupiza 短留的幾天，我們應景地一口氣看了三齣奇連伊士活主演的 The Man with No Name「意粉西部牛仔」系列，腦海中不停迴響著 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 的主題音樂。走在街上，看到有半日騎馬團去看風化石，我們哼著主題音樂進去報名。
旅途上我們一向抗拒跟動物相關的活動，不到動物園，不去水族館，在埃及金字塔旁就看到駱駝及馬匹被不人道對待，慘不忍睹。不過今次的馬房是由一對年輕夫妻細心打理，馬匹在沒有客人期間都在牧場內自由活動，毛色光鮮，肌肉有線條，而且每匹馬都有名字，感覺並不只是生財工具。我的馬匹叫 Indio，剛好是 For a Few Dollars More 中的歹角名稱。
我們矇著面，以手指代槍，策馬哼著 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 主題音樂，完全投入西部牛仔世界。
Not Just the Salar De Uyuni／Kimberlogic
A visit to Bolivia is not complete without a visit to Salar De Uyuni. Most tourists start from the town of Uyuni and can choose from all different kinds and lengths of tours. Since we entered Bolivia from the south, we decided to start our salt flat tour from Tupiza and end in Uyuni. The only tour option from Tupiza is a 4 day 3 night tour. This is because it takes a long time to drive on a dirt track through all of the remote, changing landscapes to finally arrive at the salt flats.
Although the Salt Flats are the highlight of the tour, we really enjoyed the other three days of amazing scenery. The first day of the tour was mainly a driving day to get us into the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve of Andean Fauna. On the way, we saw a ton of llamas, vicunas and empty desert-like landscape. We were also climbing in elevation throughout the entire trip.
The second day of the tour we drove through the National Reserve. Within this reserve there are many different lakes and they are each different colors. The colors are created by the different chemicals present in the water resulting from all of the volcanic activity in the area. The white lake is because of borax, the green lake is because of arsenic, and the red lake’s color is caused by the algae in the lake. We also saw so many flamingos in all of these lakes, which was a pleasant surprise.
Both the first and second night’s accommodations were very basic, but the second night was very difficult for all of us. The accommodations were very similar; a simple bed with three blankets, a shared toilet and sink (no showers were available until the third night), and a room for us to have dinner and breakfast. The difference with the second night’s hostel was the elevation. We were over 4,000 meters which was very cold and windy and it also made it very hard to breathe and do simple activities, even sleep.
After surviving the second night, the third day we drove through the Dali Desert, which actually looked like we were in a painting from Salvatore Dali. The landscape was very surreal, with giant rocks in the middle of nowhere and beautiful tall mountains in the far distance. We drove a lot this day as well, but we made a few more stops to look at active volcanos in the distance and Ming Hay even made time to try a snack of llama sausage.
The third night’s accommodation was neat because the entire hotel was made from salt. It was still a very basic hostel, but got us excited to see the salt flats the next day. When visiting the salt flats, it is very important to do your research. The salt flats are completely dry some parts of the year and too flooded to visit at other times. We visited at the beginning of wet season, so we were unable to visit the islands, but were lucky enough to experience everything else. If we visited two weeks later, we would probably been turned away from almost everything we got to see.
The salt flats were truly amazing. When we were in water, the reflection made us feel like we were somewhere in the atmosphere, with no horizon line. On the dry parts, it seemed like it went on forever. And at night with the bright stars we could see them in every direction, even looking down. We had so much fun at the salt flats, but the entire four day trip through a remote part of Bolivia made this experience truly memorable.